Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rip and Ruminate

The brain is the last to know. That is the way Jan Cox once expressed a physiological reality the implications of which are not grasped by the modern ordinary consciousness..  The literal truth of this gap (the gap between getting scratched and noticing the wound in  words, is the gap I am pointing to)  can be seen at various levels of human reality.

I am not now pointing to the most useful aspect of this gap--remembering it and the implications of the gap for knowing the present. The idea in this essay is looking at this gap in the macro world of human culture.

History reflects this gap--prior to the 19th century there was a certain accepted brutality at all social levels. I refer to bear baiitng, and public executions , for instance.  Yet a certain coarseness in sentiment was receding.  One way we know this is that this brutality began to be 'talked about.'   When a certain kind of brutality was ended, it could become the subject of discussions.  One place to see this verbalizing was the work the Grimm Brothers. In the fairy tales they collected, the brutality is  described.  The brutality in the fairytales (a woman dances to death in flaming shoes, for instance), reflects the real brutality which however, was already in the process of ending, or it  could not be talked about.

A  more recent example are the reparations paid to World War II victims. Why wait til the nineties to make these payments?  A case could be made that the payments were delayed because the war was not over til the nineties.--not over where it counts, in the bodies of men.

And today's paper has a lovely example.  There is a report that Wesley Autrey and Mr. Hollopeter had dinner together on Dec. 23.  This the paper says is the first time they met since the day Autrey jumped onto the subway track in front of an oncoming train to save the life of a stranger, Mr. Hollopeter.  The physical event was so dramatic that it took two years to really be over, and now the participants can 'discuss it.'

And again--this gap has a powerful use for those trying to remember themselves, to use the terminology of Gurjieff and Jan Cox.

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